Because of the diverse nature of the many different restaurants and chefs Brian Henry has worked under he is highly proficient at a wide range of cuisines.

Brian’s cooking is seasonal, inventive and smart, but in no way unapproachable or fussy. When he is coaxed out of the kitchen and starts talking about food, his passion and knowledge are instantly recognizable.

"Chef Brian Henry cooked a series of delicious appetizers for us as we sat around a table in the kitchen". Thanks

Tony Aspler, Wine writer

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Gastronomically yours,

Discovering Capsicum

Christopher Columbus is the Italian explorer who sailed the ocean blue in an effort to discover a westward oceanic passage to India. On four different attempts Chris tried in vain to find a route to India.  Instead the Italian explorer was credited with discovering an already inhabited land; “The New World”. As Orwellian as this may sound and as easy as it may appear to repute his most celebrated discovery I think we can take heart in knowing that Mr. Columbus self-discovered many new foods as anyone who travels far away from their home still does today.

Many of Chris’s early findings left a legacy of inappropriately named articles and terms commonly found in the English language. Included in his list of christenings is his spurious naming of the fruit we commonly refer to as pepper, which ironically during the same time period the peppercorn produced by drying berries of Piper, an unrelated plant, were highly prized as an exotic condiment and traded for high profits.

The proper name for this family of fruits would be capsicum. Members of the capsicum family produce fruits in different colors. Most commonly we see them in hues of red, yellow, orange and green. Hybrids of capsicum will vary in colors, which include white, purple, brown, and almost black.

Green capsicums are the most plentiful of the capsicum fruits. They are also the least expensive as they are harvested before they have ripened. This allows producers to harvest multiple crops throughout the growing season forcing the plant to try and reproduce itself via the flower, fruit and seed life-cycle. Green capsicums are high in folic acid. It should be noted that many people develop indigestion or acid reflux after consuming these green or unripe fruits by comparison to ripened peppers.

Yellow and orange capsicums are at the stage of being semi-ripened.  They are sweeter than green capsicum and yellow fruits are usually juicier than reds.

Red capsicums have reached the final ripening stage. The red and yellow fruits are the most expensive. Their prices drop drastically every fall after harvesting, but the plants produce only one crop throughout each season.

Capsicum is native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America. Capsicum seeds were later carried back to Spain by Mr. Columbus and from there spread just like his contracted syphilis throughout Europe. Today, Mexico remains one of the world’s major capsicum producers.

Locally grown capsicums and Ontario grown capsicums are flooding the market and produce aisles alike and are a great ingredient in the following recipe which exhibits the brilliant colors of autumn.

 

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Ingredients:

 

4 large red bell peppers

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced

1 large russet potato, peeled and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 quart chicken stock or vegetable stock

1/4 cup cream or milk

2 Tbsp. butter

Cayenne, salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Roast the red bell peppers by exposing them to an open flame until they blacken on all sides. Your barbecue, gas fired stove or oven’s broiler will work best for this. Place the blackened peppers in a bag, close the bag and let the peppers steam for about 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the blackened skins, and remove all of the seeds. Coarsely chop the peppers into smaller pieces.

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and potatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and roasted peppers. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the stock, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until the potatoes are soft.

Remove the pot from heat and purée the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Be cautious not to splash it about as the soup will be hot and could cause burns. Stir in the cream and season with cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.

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